The impact of the first United Kingdom COVID-19 lockdown on environmental air pollution, digital display device use and ocular surface disease symptomatology amongst shielding patients

Alberto Recchioni*, Maryam Makanvand, Natraj Poonit, Graham R. Wallace, Suzanne Bartington, William Bloss, Saaeha Rauz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Worldwide lockdown reduced air pollution during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. The relationship between exposure to ambient air pollution, digital display device use and dry eye symptoms amongst patients with severe ocular surface disease (OSD) were considered. Symptoms and air pollutant concentrations for three different time periods (pre, during and post COVID-19 lockdown) were analysed in 35 OSD patients who achieved an immunosuppression risk-stratification score > 3 fulfilling the UK Government criteria for 12-week shielding. OSDI symptoms questionnaire, residential postcode air pollution data obtained from the Defra Automated Urban and Rural monitoring network for concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM) with diameters below 10 µm and 2.5 µm, and English Indices of Deprivation were analysed. Significant reductions in NO2 and NOx concentrations were observed between pre- and during-lockdown periods, followed by a reversal in the post-lockdown period. Changes were linked to the Living Environment outdoor decile. A 12% increase (p = 0.381) in symptomatology during-lockdown was observed that reversed post-lockdown by 19% (p = 0.144). OSDI scores were significantly correlated with hours spent on digital devices (r2 = 0.243) but not with air pollutant concentrations. Lockdown measures reduced ambient air pollutants whilst OSD symptomatology persisted. Environmental factors such as increased time indoors and use of bluescreen digital devices may have partly played a role.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20820
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date2 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2022, The Author(s). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.
To view a copy of this licence, visit Funding: Alberto Recchioni (AR) is supported by funding from the II-LA-1117-20001 Programme Invention for Innovation (i4i), National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Maryam Makanvand (MM), Suzanne Bartington (SB) and William Bloss (WB) are supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), grants NE/ T001976/1 Integrated Research Observation System for Clean Air, and NE/S003487/1. Saaeha Rauz (SR) is supported by is supported by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Programme Invention for Innovation (i4i), Medical Research Council (MRC) Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS), Fight for Sight, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals National Health Service Trust. Graham Wallace (GW) is supported by Medical Research Council and Fight for Sight. This is a summary of independent research funded by the
NIHR’s i4i Programme. Views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or DHSC.


Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of the first United Kingdom COVID-19 lockdown on environmental air pollution, digital display device use and ocular surface disease symptomatology amongst shielding patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this